Editor Tom Dunne re-iterates industry calls for an end to a shameful arrangement of self regulation.
If we are to learn anything from the current economic crisis it should be that there is a need for proper state regulation of industries where individuals and the public generally will suffer when things are not done properly. From the Anglo Irish Bank to Priory Hall surely we must have learned that getting regulation right is important for all our security, safety and prosperity.
The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2012 is a clear example that lessons may have not been learned. This will be plain from the critique of these Regulations provided by the Building Surveying Professional Group through their Chairman Kevin Hollingsworth in this edition (p22-23).
There are many problems with these Regulations and the Society’s concerns are shared by other professional bodies with a public interest mandate and industry representatives. Crucially Kevin points out that not having a completed code of practice prior to endorsing new mandatory inspection and certification obligations is inconceivable and unworkable. Several of the other flaws are well elucidated in the article.
Given what we all have learned about the inherent dangers of conflicts of interests it is almost unbelievable, and will probably be unacceptable to construction professionals and the public, that the new building control system provides that the building owner will still be the paymaster of the certifier. The best location of the responsibility for certification is with the local authority and we need to give them the powers and the expertise to independently certify buildings as fit for use. They need to do that on all our behalves and in the public good.
After everything we have gone through in the last few years in this country, it is unthinkable that the Government is proposing to continue to facilitate self-regulation that has co-incided with (and I would add facilitated) the drop in standards of construction. As is abundantly clear from the Priory Hall debacle, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan, as a leading member of a Government with a mandate to reform, ought to put an end to this arrangement.